Book Review|The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

 

 

“We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urgent within us that spurs us to the pursuit.”

Containing ten short chapters, this book by A.W. Tozer is as relevant to believers today as it was when it was written. Practical and easy to read, The Pursuit of God is comforting and admonishing in turn

Tozer does not pull punches when addressing the church.  I was struck by how applicable Tozer’s writing is to the current issues we face in the church and in our individual lives. Whether we agree with all of his philosophy or not, The Pursuit of God is full of dateless advice for seekers.

There is a certain beauty in the straightforwardness  of Tozer’s prose. It is refreshing. Timeless exhortation and instruction rests between these pages. Plain speaking and simple, but at the same time profound, the writing contained in this small volume is well worth the read.

Each of the 10 chapters ends with a prayer.

This small volume is suitable for individual or group study.

An excellent book to write responses in a personal journal.

“The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect one. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do.”

Project Gutenberg has this book, The Pursuit of God, free here.

Click here for a discussion guide for The Pursuit of God.

 

Let Me Hide| A Prayer

rockwtextRock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide the shame of what was done to me and the shame of what’s become of me. Hide the tears and the wounds I’ve suffered, and those I have inflicted. Let the water and the blood cover me. Hide my anguish at the sin perpetrated upon me and the sins that I have embraced.

Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide.

Let not the labor of my hands deceive me, no restitution is found there. Only hiding in You will save me. I have nothing to give you, only my barren soul. To Your promise I will cling until at last I see You, my heart still singing, Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide.

 

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link-up. Bloggers from all over respond to the week’s prompt by writing for five minutes.  The prompt of Hide for this week’s Five Minute Friday made me sing, cry, and pray.

Want to add your voice? Pop on over to Kate’s site. There’s room.

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Pray for Me

I have been thinking a great deal about what direction I want to go with my writing, my ministry, my life. Words to me are a necessary as breath. When my hands don’t work I speak, and when I can’t speak or move, songs run themselves through my mind. Lyrics and melody of the original kind.

Surely this is my life calling.

It is who I am. A writer.

Now I am asking myself why I write and who am I writing for?

I write because we hurt. I write for you.

In my very first adult writing class my teacher told me, “You should write for troubled youth.” I didn’t know what to do with that. I didn’t think I was really cut out for teen ministry. Not any specific ministry, really.  Mostly I encourage people without considering their outsides or position. Everybody’s been through stuff. I’ve been through stuff.

My heart’s desire has been to give shelter, a safe place, and to have that for myself as well. I need to nurture, to encourage and lift up even while I am nothing but a cripple, cobbled by my own bondage, never quite able to permanently shed the constricting cords of the past.

I pray. Give hugs. Write prayers for people. Pen bad poetry and better stories to point the way. Sing. Try to tell the truth. Share sorrow.

Life has concentrated me until this is all I can do. What will He fashion from this frailty? What will He do with me, a broken girl?

I have written a book. Some will not see what is meant only for the heart it was intended for. The message is gentle, because the girl it is written for will not be harshly led. She is one of the fragile souls. I have wrapped truth in a story for her, only her.

Now to find a way to set the words out, hoping they find home, the place where they were always meant to rest. The heart of every girl who needs to hear these specific words of comfort.

Pray for me.

You Are Beloved

It was getting close to bedtime and I prayed with my teen daughter. I asked God to bless her and thanked Him for her. Then I stopped talking and gave the presence of the Holy Spirit room.

When the word came it was fresh even though the words on my lips were as constant and familiar to her as breath.

I cupped her face with both my hands, looking her in the eye. I held her there for a heartbeat before I spoke.

You are His Beloved.

There are things we know to be true with our whole being, but over time we lose clarity. Like the view through a recently cleaned pane of glass on a sunny blue sky day, all of a sudden, we are made newly aware of what we knew to be there all the time. There are words, and then there are Words. Truth comes in a rush and we are once again amazed.

You are His Beloved.

All day, every day, feedback and half-truths tell us what we should be. It is a constant assault. This is not a thing only the young among us struggle against. Knowing we are less-than, we recognize our lack. Faced with this reality, we strive to escape our faulty standing, and forget the larger truth of who we are. Who He says we are.

You are worth everything He paid for you.
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You are worth everything He paid for you. (Tweet This)

The messed up, less than, never to be perfect mess that you are. Even now, when you have failed, failed,failed. Even then, before you knew Him, you were worth everything He paid for you. You still are. Now and then, forever.

You are His Beloved.

My arm around her, I began to sing.

I am His and He is mine
A forever love outlasting time
Jesus loves me He’s my destiny
Jesus loves me He is my destiny

I stopped and asked her, “Do you remember this song?”

It was her baptism song. The song I wrote after she made her profession of faith. Then we sang the song together, she and I. Because it is my song, too.

And the song of all who choose to sing.

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No Small Act: Learning to Be Kind

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I try to focus on the word kindness, to find meaning in the concept. It’s useless. No idea comes.

Instead, a memory, and not one of a kindness given or received. It is one of those that comes unbidden, in early mornings or late at night when the quiet allows things pushed away into the corners to creep out and demand attention.

In the memory, he is eighteen years old and comes to stand beside me. I am in the kitchen, where moms of many spend a lot of time, my hands busy, taking care, doing one of the small tasks that make up my one best job.

“I have to tell you something,” he says.

His usual method of communication is to launch into loud and long dialog while his audience either keeps up or watches the blur. This preamble means it is serious. He often does this with things that bother him, his expression morose and tragic. Usually the situation is not. He shifts his feet. I finish what I am doing and give my absolute attention to him. He takes a deep breath and blows it out in a hard, fast exhalation.

He looks so very small, suddenly. This is not guilt, or a request, or a confession.  It is something else. He is troubled and sad.

“A long time ago,” he says, “when we were at church, a lady said something really mean.”

This is about his little brother.

A tingle starts between my shoulder blades as the muscles tense, but so many things are open to interpretation. I try to relax. I tip my head to the side and nod for him to continue.

He tells me the words she said and the words, though spoken years ago, are still sharp. “Shouldn’t be allowed” and “normal” and more. They buzz in my ears too loud and hurt, hurt, hurt. The air and sun of seasons gone by have not diluted their terrible power to cut.

The greatest danger of motherhood is the inevitable vulnerability of her tender, unguardable heart.

He stands there, with little boy eyes and slumped shoulders. He has borne this burden a long time, taking the arrows for his brother, for me. The man and the boy are all mixed up. Here is my child, made a man too young, now a grown man with a five o’clock shadow at eleven in the morning, still carrying manly boyhood wounds.

Why would a person say such things to a child about his younger sibling? I want to bind my boy’s hurts, to gather up the pieces of his grief and take them away, to cry, to scream, to use my own words against the one who has injured him so. Instead, I am quietly still. Tight anger is my shield against overwhelming helplessness.

He will not tell me who. He says he does not really know her. He doesn’t remember. But his eyes shift. Still taking arrows, he stands on this with fists clenched tightly around small secrets. There is nowhere for my Momma Bear fierceness to go.

I offer cliché-filled wisdom and rub wide circles on his broad back, pat his arm. We talk. I fix him a glass of sweet tea, give every bit of motherly comfort I can scrape up.

Life goes on and I try to forget about it, to disregard the mutterings of a mean-spirited woman and the scars left behind. I say to myself, “This is her problem, not mine,” and I shake my head at people like that.

Yet it haunts me. The pain in his eyes, and the unspeakable words still there, swirling about in the air and in my mind, never fading.

Kindness. This was not kindness. Then, out of the salt, I know what to do.

I pray for her.

I am surprised by the way it washes me, this act of kindness. And in this, I discover an even greater act of kindness, one toward myself. In one step of faith and obedience towards forgiving the unforgivable, the impossible happens.

quote 'with one small step of faith ...towards forgiving...the impossible happens." donnastone.me

In one step of faith and obedience towards forgiving the unforgivable, the impossible happens. (Tweet This)

Healing and freedom begin to take root.

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The Laundry Prayer

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the arms covered by these sleeves. And thank you for the way those arms encircle me, even when I’ve been cranky and mean.

Thank you for the ripped up knees of his good pants, because these holes show that he is healthy enough to run, play, fall down, and get up– all without me knowing it.

Thank you for the chocolate stains down the front this once white shirt. It means she can eat. Anything she wants.

Thank you for missing buttons. The time I spend reattaching them will remind me to ask You to protect his heart, especially from my own harsh words.

Thank you for the huge pile of mismatched socks. Let them always be worn by ‘beautiful feet’.

Thank you for clothing my family, Lord. Thank you for the grace that covers Your children from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes.

                                           Amen

Spiritual Gifts, Callings, and Hard Times

I heard someone make the statement that if whatever you are doing is hard, it must not be your gift. We all know people who mistakenly think they have a talent or calling in a certain area. It’s obvious. Often painfully so.

We should desire all of the gifts, but we are not always prepared or suited to operate in every area of spiritual gifting at all times. You can’t choose from a list and simply stake a claim. God distributes gifts as He wills for the good of the body. (Corinthians 12:11, 18, 12:7)

While I do agree that trying to operate outside of your area is difficult and unproductive, I’m not convinced that hard times are proof you are pursuing the wrong occupation. It can signal you are not suited to the task, or it may be a sign you are on the right track. Pray. Seek God. Evaluate yourself.

Any activity of worth requires effort. If you know your gift, do not allow the predictable resistance to derail you. (I Peter 4:12-16, Ephesians 6: 10-12, Galatians 6:9)

A true athlete loves the sport. You can see it. They pursue it with focus and determined joy. No one even imagines that a star athlete has all easy days. In addition to natural ability, it takes sweat. Testing their physical limits. Early mornings and long days.

When you are operating in your gift, most of the time all the exertion feels good, even when it is exhausting. But there are times when it doesn’t. This is not the time to throw in the towel. Dig deep. Push.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24 NIV

Being Offended is a Choice

“Being offended is a choice.” The words popped into my head.

I was offended. Personally insulted by someone’s bold, untrue, and what I considered to be outright rude, statements. I felt my choices, my lifestyle, my very core beliefs, had been attacked. Taking offense was a knee jerk reaction. It was also a signal for me to stop and think.

If she were right, then perhaps I needed to change my point of view. If she wasn’t, I could stand firm in my own convictions without getting upset. Confidence and the knowledge that comes from being centered in God’s will comes from consistent, prayerful obedience. As believers, isn’t this where we all want to be?

Challenging opinions can be good. They can bring us to that place. A place of no offense.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6 NKJV

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 NIV

Prepared for the Season

I thought my daughter was on a health kick, what with her sudden interest in exercise and wise eating. Then I was informed that she was getting ready for junk food eating season. Sounds like a reasonable plan to me. There are a few things I could add to my getting-ready-for-the-season list as well.

We all have personal pitfalls that this time of year brings. It may be overspending, being manipulated by guilt into doing too much, allowing stressful situations produce words we wish could be taken back, falling into the trap of perfectionism, or any number of negative tendencies.

Some troubles can be avoided. For those that can’t God has given us the good food of His word to strengthen us so we can stand against the enemy’s devises.

That means finding scripture about our specific struggles, meditating on those words, and asking God to help us apply them. Many a scripture card has adorned my bathroom mirror, the fridge, and various other prominent places. Seeing those words of encouragement, exhortation, and promise keeps them foremost in my mind and heart.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV

If we know the situation we are heading into, and know ourselves and our likely reactions, we can adjust the predictable results. Challenges will come, but we know the enemy’s tricks. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Feed yourself right with scripture and stay conditioned by prayer in preparation for every ‘season.’ (Ephesians 6:10-12)